Publishing Microcity – An Ingenious Public-Inclusive Module

The people of Mumbai are devoid of congenial public spaces along the Eastern Waterfront. The Sewri Port, Mumbai, is well known to be the hub for logistics, but its current condition and constitution in terms of recreation and economic development is insufficient to exploit its full economic potential. These waterfronts can be harnessed and revitalised to meet the contemporary trends practised in the developed cities of the world today for economic regeneration and urban renewal. In the city of Mumbai, the waterfront is not only under-developed for renewal and recreation but due to creation of new docks and shifting of the hub, many such docks in Mumbai are left vacant and are put to no good use. However, opening up of mill lands and the Mumbai Port Trust lands for development has resulted in a lot of construction activity in this area. These lands, when well-designed and opened up to the public, would not only serve as interactive spaces, but also maintain the connectivity of the city with the waterfront.

Nida Chikte, currently working for Educated Environments, Ratan J Batliboi Consultants Pvt Ltd., is an architect by profession but has always been a passionate writer. She has about 2 years’ experience in architectural journalism. Owing to her immense love for print media and the world of publishing, she designed a Publishing Complex as part of her Final Year B. Arch Thesis.

As per the proposal laid down by the Mumbai Port Trust, the governing body of the Mumbai Dock lands, part of the eastern waterfront is being freed up for public use. This would include recreational activities, museums, libraries, office spaces, residential units, eateries and a shopping arena.

With respect to the proposal, the idea behind this thesis project is to design a hub that would focus on creating a collaborative publishing complex as part of the area for office spaces, while amalgamating it with the recreational activities.

The idea behind designing a collaborative hub is to aid interaction among the users with the means of recreational activities, eateries, a shopping avenue, a public square, a publishing complex and other activities, with utmost importance being on the publishing complex.

The backdrop would enhance the complex and aid in boosting employee and user productivity by providing an altogether different environment for the typology of the space that would be coming up. The idea is to change the notion of a conventional publishing house, by creating a new module that would include the publishing house, the printing press and library in the same premise, but in conjunction with other recreational activities, eateries and shopping facilities with the common asset of the waterfront as the backdrop.

Supporting the idea, Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), said that the 300 acres of dock lands on the eastern seafront of Mumbai is prime land, which would be returned to Mumbai city and its people. The needs of the city are the top priority; therefore, facilities such as a convention centre, an entertainment hub, large gardens, promenades and marinas would be created.
The main idea is to create public-centric spaces, which would include activities as mentioned by the Chairman of MbPT while also inculcate a publishing complex, which would be an innovation when compared to waterfronts in other parts of the country and even abroad. The designed space would generate new avenues for public interaction.

Existing publishing houses are mere single buildings housing mostly the editorial, marketing and other departments. There is limited access for the general public. In most cases, the printing press is located at a different place, where the soft copies of the magazines/newspapers need to be sent and the hard copies, after printing, are sent back to the publishing house. Hence, the work is spread over 2 locations. Therefore, it is difficult to make last minute changes.

Also, the space is quite monotonous and boring, with only office cabins and discussion rooms all stacked up in a single building. Therefore, the idea is to design a collaborative complex that will include a publishing house, a library and various interactive spaces spread laterally over the site, which would also be general public inclusive.

Such an intervention has not been made in Mumbai, which is why doing so would attract majority of the people to get a firsthand new experience. Such a site would anytime be better than any conventional site for a publishing house and library.

Thesis Proposal:
Publishing houses are centres for promotion of creativity, message propagation and influencing the general masses. Today, most publishing houses are monotonous warehouses that receive and supply data. Agreed that printing and publishing in the past were based entirely on commercial and economic grounds, but that is not the case now. Then why this monotony? Why are these organisations mere information generating systems? Where does the aspect of creativity come in?

Ideally, a publishing house, be it for a magazine, a newspaper or books, should be a place that not only enhances one’s creative skills but also boosts user productivity. This is not achievable in dull and boring offices.

If we look at the innovations in office designs, for example the Hike Headquarters at Delhi, the workplace is given a new identity altogether. The first impression it creates is a cool lounge or café and one wonders where the office might be. The office is as different as it can get, challenging the straitjacketed, middle age approach to work place. Interior design for workspaces in India has often lagged behind the curve when compared with global best practices. It is not just about adoption of smart technologies or catering to a youthful attitude at communal work places, rarely has the Indian office transitioned beyond the conventional standard.

Hence, one aspect of the project is to design a new module for a publishing house, with inclusion of open, semi-open, informal spaces, generating a sense of comfort and positive vibes. An open layout is advantageous for various other reasons too.

Few spaces that can be part of the publishing house design are:
Open Workspaces
Green Gardens
Collaborative spaces
Spaces of Solitude

The second aspect of the project is the amalgamation of different parts of the publishing industry- namely the publishing house, the printing press and additionally, a library.

All these functions, in conjunction with each other, would result in a newfangled module that has not been executed as yet in any part of the world.

All this, with the backdrop of the Arabian Sea, since the chosen site for the project is at the Eastern waterfront. What better context than a waterfront for a publishing house and a library. The environment would aid the employees of the publishing house in producing better content if they are provided with spaces that will boost their state of mind. As for the library, the waterfront is an ideal setup for individuals to read books, in open or semi-open spaces, as preferred by the users.

As per the proposal laid down by the Government and the Mumbai Port Trust, a recreational hub, marina, office spaces and residential units have been proposed at the waterfront. Hence, the third aspect of the project is the connectivity between these spaces. The challenge is to link the recreational hub and the office space, which includes the publishing house. This can be achieved by making the design public-inclusive, allowing the general public to see and know more about the publishing industry, obviously without disturbing the privacy and working of the publishing house. Communal spaces can be created at buffer zones. Despite the casual appearance, a clear and non- intrusive nudge for serious business working would be evident below the layer of informality.

In the wake of the emergence of digital media, print media is gradually dying out. Majority of people and publishers have transitioned from hard reading to soft reading, for myriad reasons. But, there still lies a major chunk of people that rely on conventional reading alternatives. It is essential to cater to these users as well. Blindly shifting from conventional printing to digitalization is not appropriate. Users’ preferences must be taken into account.

As per a research conducted by The Association of Magazine Media, it was concluded that reading on paper is slower and deeper; paper readers remember more.

Hence, the practice of reading via print media must be revived so that an age-long source of media does not die out like telegram and posts did.

That is an entirely different story altogether. Replacement of telegram and posts by e-mails is valid since it saved time and cost. No doubt digitalizing media sources can also save on all these aspects, but what about the crudity of print media? It adds a touch of rawness to the data.

In fact, the impact of print media is such that companies that had succumbed to digitalisation have taken the reverse path and have returned to print media, on the grounds of authenticity, quality and reader engagement.

Few of those companies are:
Politico, Delayed Gratification, PORTER magazine, The Pitchfork Review, etc.

Even now, the importance of print media is such that people pay

big sums to acquire handcrafted or old printed antiques. With this advent of technology, how can we safeguard this valuable entity for future generations to experience?

Furthermore, sixty-six percent (66%) of adults say they prefer reading a printed version of the newspaper, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twenty-eight percent (28%) like reading the online version of their preferred paper instead.

Hence, there is a percentage of readers that refuse to use the Internet and electronic screens, preferring hard copies. Some readers have to“Print is the faithful spouse. Ninety-five percent of the money is in print.”

Rise of bloggers:
The reliability and accountability of newspapers is being replaced by a sea of anonymous bloggers, many with uncertain credentials and points of view. Where once the reader of a daily newspaper might consume reporting by an established professional of a major newspaper, today that same reader might be directed by a search engine to an anonymous blogger with cloudy allegiances, training or ability.

Is digital clutter reviving print?
Many people would argue that print is no longer usable concluding that digital media has taken over the role of traditional print. Recently, word has it that there’s a chance that print is slowly making its way back to the scenes as people suffer from digital cluttering.

Figure 1 Gross rating points (GRPs) of the top 25 print magazines and
primetime TV programs (index)

As we turn to the digital platforms to socialise, send emails, engaging with friends through digital media, we continue to be exposed to unprecedented amounts of hours before our smartphones’ and computers’ screens. Soon, we get fatigued from this excess exposure. Since our lives seemingly revolve around different digital platforms, we end up having several pieces of software, applications, and information on our devices. Consequently, we end up having an unmatched digital clutter. Publications and marketing strategies have slowly been employing digital techniques over the years. The benefit is that digital publishing offers great opportunities to inject media into publications and collateral. The growing digital industry continues to get saturated with live streams, blogs, video content, etc. People are now entering a stage of digital clutter overload.

In April, this year, an article appeared in the ‘Guardian’ which asked whether e-books had lost their shine. The article reported a drop in the purchase of e-books by 17% and 20% in the UK and U.S. respectively. Many questions remain unanswered from this phenomenon. Nevertheless, one of the main challenges is the screen fatigue that users face. Amidst all the enjoyment while reading e-books comes text notifications, social notifications, and email alerts. The beautiful nature of print gives it an edge in contrast to digital media. Apart from being tangible, print media is diverse and can be used to create a cross-platform strategy.

Figure 2 Advertising comparative statistics

“A perspective-altering piece is worth more for 10,000 in print than as a brief distraction for 100,000 online.”

Advertising in print yields greater increases in brand awareness, brand favourability and purchase intent than online or TV advertising

Advertising in print yields greater increases in brand awareness, brand favourability and purchase intent than online or TV advertising

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.